A horrific video footage of a gangster execution shot in broad daylight in Manenberg is circulating on social media.
A woman kneels next to a half-naked man lying by a roadside as his wounds ooze blood. After saying a quick prayer she disappears into the crowd of onlookers‚ then someone hurls a lump of concrete at his head.
“Gaan haal ’n gun!’’ (Get a gun!) someone yells as he struggles to breathe.
Other than the prayer offered by the unknown woman‚ no one attempts to help. And no one tries to shield three little boys from the act of violence.
The face of the man who shattered the concrete on the injured man’s head cannot be seen.
“It’s strategic I think‚’’ said Roegshanda Pascoe‚ chairman of the Western Cape Safety Forum. “This video is an attempt to send out a message from one gang to another.
“My concern is that gangsters are killing other gangsters in public to prove a point. They don’t shoot any more. They beat them to death. It is a public display of power‚ of dominance.’’
But the man in the video was no longer a gangster‚ said Pascoe. He had tried to leave the Hard Livings “ages ago’’ and start a new life. But his past came back to haunt him because there was no way out. If you lived by the sword‚ you were likely to die by it.
Residents said the notorious Americans gang was behind the attack. They found the victim’s gang tattoo when they undressed him. The children who witnessed the crime did not even flinch when the concrete block shattered on the man’s head. Instead they moved closer to check if he had survived (he had).
The children‚ Pascoe explained‚ are numb. It is as if a switch has been turned off at some point in their young lives and their innocence disappears. “Last year my grandson watched as something similar happened in our street. He was two years old and is no longer a normal child. He is aggressive‚ he swears‚ he is angry. Like the other children here‚ he has transformed‚” she said.
“They have adapted to this abnormal life‚ they have come to respect gangs who display no fear. So people ask: ‘Why can’t our children read and write? Why can’t they do well at school?’ This is why.”
The desperation in Pascoe’s voice is clear. “Pristine” Cape Town has a dark secret — the Cape Flats. Many of those suffering there do not even cry for help any more because no one listens.
Many believe that the authorities want the residents to wage war‚ wipe each other out. This year‚ 66 children have been murdered‚ and these are just the deaths reported by the press.
Often questions are asked about the alarming level of violence in the country. Academics and politicians can dissect and probe and analyse human behaviour as much as they want. But the answer lies in videos such as this.
Without resources or support‚ Pascoe and her team of community activists tend to the victims and swaddle the innocent‚ ‘‘burping them like newborn babies’’‚ as she puts it‚ until their unease disappears.
One of the many messages Pascoe receives every day says: “My stomach is turning because I went to the mall just now and two gangsters got into the taxi I was in. My stomach started hurting because of the fear. This morning all the gangs were shooting. It is war.”